For he who affirms that God can not secure the highest final good without using evil as its temporary means, limits his power just as truly as he who affirms that he can not secure the highest good without permitting evil as its necessary concomitant The fact that the means are temporary, while the concomitant is eternal, does not change the fact that, in both cases, God has been proved unable to secure good without any admixture of evil: hence, according to the epicurean premise, he is not omnipotent; hence, there is no God.
I think what we have is a disagreement about what’s possible and what’s not. The Arminian argues as follows:
- The highest good is to create a world where God and man can freely love each other
- Such a world requires beings with free will
- Free will necessarily carries with it a risk of evil
- The evil that results from free will in no way is a limit on God’s power, for it is impossible in the nature of things for God to control a will and still allow it to be free
- Hence, God has created the Best of All Possible Worlds, even though it resulted in a large quantity of evil
In pondering such issues, it is important that we exercise humility. Who are we to say what limits God’s omniscience and what doesn’t in every single instance? Do we really have such a firm grasp of what it means to be omniscient? It is easy to look at the enormous amount of sin and suffering we see in this world and to say that if such a thing were necessary, then it would constitute a limit on God’s omniscience. But remember the perspective from which we are viewing. What seems quite enormous to us may seem quite small to God. Compared to an eternity, our historical experiences amount to a single drop in a vast ocean-- less than a drop, really, for the ocean in view is eternal.
With this in mind, let’s try to put it in perspective. Suppose God allowed one single sin to occur in all of history, in order to demonstrate its ill effects. One small sin. A single bad word, perhaps, or an impious thought. And suppose He felt that by so doing He could accomplish something in some minute, infinitesimal way that was just slightly better, in terms of education, than if He had not allowed it? Would that really mean that He's not omniscient? Isn’t it just possible that sometimes a lesson demonstrated is better than one taught? At least some of the time? Especially if, as Fisk himself speculates:
"Is it not more than merely supposable that the present moral system is the first of a series. If this be so, it is reasonable to infer that the history of our race, its fall, the Incarnation and Atonement, will be used as great moral motives to maintain the purity of future systems?"
My point is this: If this consideration is reason enough for God to allow sin, then why isn't it reason enough for God to cause it? Is it because to cause it would implicate Him in sin Himself? But how, if He's causing it for the greatest possible good--one greater than can be attained without it? Then He's merely creating the Best of All Possible Worlds, which is the very thing Fisk insists He has the right to do. What greater limit can we place on Omnipotence than to imagine it must arrange to happen by coincidence that which He might bring to pass by His Sovereign will?